Monday, August 15, 2016

My Latest Obsession

To indulge my creative side, I have embraced a variety of needlework over the years.  As a girl, I learned to embroider on "Days of the Week" tea towels and to sew clothes for myself, as my mother made many of our clothes. As a newlywed, I was into crocheting, making Christmas stockings for my husband and myself and a tree skirt, then baby items when our daughter came along.  Next came counted cross-stitch, and I made a number of samplers and a Christmas stocking for our son, as well as more baby items for shower gifts.  Then the smocking craze hit, and I smocked many outfits for both children, until my son -- at age 4 -- told me he wanted a suit and tie for Easter, NOT the cute little smocked shirts with button-on knee pants I loved to make for him.  Fast forward a few years, and my sister got me re-interested in knitting, which I had learned as a child from my grandmother.  I knit many hats and scarves and a few socks, then a grandchild born in the Frozen North had me knitting adorable baby sweaters.  I still love to knit -- more about that in another post, maybe -- but in the past few months I have been entertaining myself by sewing doll dresses.

This spring I sewed several sundresses for my youngest grandchild, and for fun, I made matching dresses for her American Girl-style doll.  Here's one example:

Then, I discovered the wonderful dollmaker of Phoebe & Egg.  In addition to Lisa's amazing handmade dolls, she generously shares free patterns for clothing for her dolls, as well as American Girl and Waldorf dolls.  Her blog features some of her creations, and she sells them in her Etsy shop, too.  I quickly signed up for her newsletter and downloaded the patterns.  They are easy and fun to sew, adding various features and trims to make them even cuter.  Now my idea of a lovely weekend is spending a morning sewing a new doll dress!  My older granddaughter even loaned me her American Girl dolls to use as models.  Here are some of my favorites:
 

Lisa is introducing a new historic collection with dress designs from the 1940s.  That's a little before my time, but it started me thinking about some of my favorite dresses when I was a child.  The one below was my favorite dress in third grade in the early 1960s (before color school photos, obviously!).  It was a blue floral print, trimmed with black rickrack and tiny black buttons, and I loved wearing it. So, I decided to use that dress as inspiration for a doll dress, and I'm pleased with the way it turned out.


Then, just for fun, I made another "dark cotton" as we called the school dresses worn when the summer heat was still evident, but fall clothes were desired. I have learned a LOT about sewing with baby rick rack, not to mention sewing tiny collars and pockets!

Do you think sewing for dolls is a sign I'm entering a second childhood?  Or should I only worry if I find myself actually playing with the dolls -- without a grandchild present?!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!  We will be just three around the table this year, as our children are celebrating with in-laws, but a lovely relaxed day is one of my favorite things.  My table features my Grandma Rachel's wedding china, Heinrich H&C's Admiral with colors perfect for the season.  Bronze and burgundy mums add a late fall touch before our thoughts turn to Christmas decorating.
On the menu:  stuffed turkey rolls (from boned thighs), cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, green beans, yeast rolls, and a new-to-us cranberry compote that includes BACON! (How bad can it BE?)  For dessert, I've made a browned-butter pecan pie and mini chocolate chess pies, with lots of whipped cream available.
Enjoy your day and count your blessings!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

We had a lovely Easter this year, with both our offspring visiting with their families for the weekend.  The weather cooperated, with sunshine and comfortably cool temperatures for lots of backyard play and patio sitting.

My older granddaughter loves to cook, so we made desserts together.  One fun project was making chocolate-dipped strawberry "carrots" to garnish pots of chocolate mousse. Her younger cousin enjoyed watching the process.



The "carrots" turned out really cute! And the mousse, topped with chocolate cookie crumb "dirt," was delicious, too.



Of course, we also needed to dye some eggs for hunting!
There was also some cute cousin cuddling time on the patio.

Sunday morning the grandchildren donned their Easter outfits.
After church, four generations sat down for Easter dinner in the dining room.  The table was set with my Castleton Gloria china, and each plate was topped with gingham napkins from Pier 1 last year and Lindt chocolate carrots.  Yellow tulips and silver dishes filled with candy eggs were the centerpiece.
Our menu was traditional -- ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rolls -- but we tried a new dessert, Emeril's banana cream pie. It was spectacular!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Learning to Sew

Do you remember when you learned to sew?  I think the first time I was allowed to use a sewing machine was when I was about seven and visiting my grandmother for a week.  She "helped" me sew a dress from white cotton printed with red and blue stars.  I'm sure I only sewed the long, straight seams and Grandma did everything else, but I was still proud of that dress! 


As I mentioned in my last post, I brought home quite a few old dress patterns that I found at my mother's house last year.  One pattern I didn't find, but sought out with the help of Google, was the one I used to sew a dress for my eighth grade home economics course.  As I recall, we girls (only girls -- the boys took "shop") were instructed to purchase a How-to-Sew pattern chosen from a short list of teacher-approved patterns, along with the fabric of our choice and required notions.  I chose this pattern, the sleeveless version, and I selected a cotton pique printed with flowers and strawberries.

It took us most of the semester to finish our dresses to Miss Blodgett's satisfaction.  I still remember having to rip out my offending armhole facings more than once and re-sew them properly.  Finally, we all finished our dresses, but part of our grade depended on actually wearing the dresses to school and modeling them in a fashion show!  By that point, most of us were sick of our dresses, but we had to comply.  I think that was the only time I ever wore mine! 

Looking back, now I wonder how on earth Miss Blodgett maintained her sanity while helping more than two dozen thirteen-year-old girls learn to sew! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

In Your Easter Bonnet

Will you have a new outfit for Easter this year? Was a new outfit an exciting part of your childhood Easters?






While visiting my parents last year, I found a treasure trove of patterns (now vintage!) that my mother had saved after sewing clothes for me throughout my childhood. One of my all-time favorites was this dress with coordinating coat, which I wore for Easter when I was 12 or 13. Mama made the coat in a pink and white floral, and the dress and coat collar in solid pink, both from linen-like fabric. The coat had covered buttons with fabric loops, which must have required a lot of extra time!  I wore it with pink slingback flats (and possibly white gloves -- were we still wearing gloves in the mid-1960s?) and felt very special and elegant.










To go WAY back, here I am in my Easter finery at age three and a half. Mama didn't make this dress -- my baby sister was 11 days old that Easter, so she was a little busy!  I have to wonder how much attention I paid in Sunday School, wearing that stiff petticoat, hat, gloves, and no-doubt-new shoes.





I continued the tradition, sewing for my children, especially their Sunday and special occasion outfits.  I was into smocking back then, and here are their Easter outfits in the late 1980s.  Our son looked adorable in smocked outfits until he was four, when he insisted he wanted to wear a suit for Easter!







And now there's another generation to sew for! Here's an Easter dress I made for my oldest grandchild a few years ago. I have sewed a few things for her and my grandson, but I haven't yet sewn anything for my youngest grandchild.  I HAVE knitted her a few things, but she's two now, so I need to get back to my sewing machine!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Books Read in 2014

After reading several bloggers' lists of books read in 2014, I decided to add my list.  Since most of my reading is done on my iPad with the Kindle app, it was easy to reconstruct the list.  Also, in 2014 I finally learned to use the Overdrive app to borrow e-books from our local library.  Easy, and best of all, free!

Here's my list.  You'll notice that when I find an author I like, I read as many of his/hers as I can get my hands on!  The titles in blue text were probably my favorites last year.  Which of these books have you read and liked/disliked? 


Simple Genius (King & Maxwell) David Baldacci
First Family (King & Maxwell) David Baldacci
Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle) D.E. Stevenson
Six Years Harlen Coben
Still Life with Bread Crumbs Anna Quindlen
Why Shoot a Butler? Georgette Heyer
Bruno, Chief of Police Martin Walker
The House on First Street Julia Reed
Death of an Old Git (Falconer Files 1) Andrea Frazer
The Wives of Los Alamos TaraShea Nesbit
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Wendy Wax
The Back Door Man Dave Buschi
Ten Beach Road Wendy Wax
Ocean Beach Wendy Wax
Magnolia Wednesdays Wendy Wax
Christmas at the Beach Wendy Wax
The Dressmaker Kate Alcott
Circle of Three Patricia Gaffney
The Apprentice (Rizzoli & Isles) Tess Gerritsen
Ice Cold (Rizzoli & Isles) Tess Gerritsen
Presumed Guilty Tess Gerritsen
The Silent Girl Tess Gerritsen
Absolute Power David Baldacci
The Camel Club David Baldacci
Ten Tales Told (short stories) E.L. Smith
The Collectors David Baldacci
Stone Cold (Camel Club) David Baldacci
Divine Justice (Camel Club) David Baldacci
The Whole Truth David Baldacci
Last Man Standing David Baldacci
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie) Alex McCall Smith
The Weird Sisters Eleanor Brown
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Aimee Bender
The Cookbook Collector: A Novel Allegra Goodman
Orphan Train: A Novel Christina Baker Kline
Heading Out to Wonderful Robert Goolrick
The Cornish Coast Murder John Bude
The Pieces We Keep Kristina McMorris
A Partial History of Lost Causes Jennifer Dubois
Desert Heat (Joanna Brady series) J. A. Jance
The Husband's Secret Liane Moriarty
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet David Mitchen
A Brewing Storm Richard Castle
Keeper of the Bride Tess Gerritsen
The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion
Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson
The Red House Mark Haddon
I Am Pilgrim Terry Hayes
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce
The Hit David Baldacci
The Innocent David Baldacci
The Target David Baldacci
Looking for Me Beth Hoffman
Heat Wave Richard Castle
The Kashmir Shawl Rosie Thomas
Heat Rises Richard Castle
Naked Heat Richard Castle
Frozen Heat Richard Castle
31 Days to a Staged Home Leslie Hoyt
1Q84 Haruki Murakami
Deadly Heat Richard Castle
Three Wishes Liane Moriarty
The Long Way Home Louise Penny
A Year of Biblical Womanhood Rachel Held Evans
Grandma Gatewood's Walk Ben Montgomery
The Ladies' Room Carolyn Brown
The Land of Mango Sunsets Dorothea Benton Frank
Small Blessings Martha Woodroof
Color Your Style David Zyla
The Temporary Wife/Promise of Spring Mary Balogh
Some Luck Jane Smiley
A Christmas Bride/Beau Mary Balogh
To Dwell in Darkness Deborah Crombie
You Should Have Known Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Mephisto Club Tess Gerritsen
Vanish Tess Gerritsen
The Keepsake Tess Gerritsen
The Sinner Tess Gerritsen
The Paying Guests Sarah Waters
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo
Reign of Error  Diane Ravitch
Life Support Tess Gerritsen
The Midwife Jolina Petersheim
The Outcast Jolina Petersheim
The Tidewater Sisters Lisa Wingate
Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng
Gray Mountain John Grisham
Helen's Babies John Habberton
Faithful Place Tana French
Broken Harbor Tana French
Last to Die Tess Gerritsen
Girl Missing Tess Gerritsen
In Their Footsteps Tess Gerritsen
Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty
Die Again (Rizzoli & Isles) Tess Gerritsen

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Forget-Me-Not Blue

These pretty hydrangea-print napkins and table runner caught my eye in a Sur la Table store, so when they went on sale, I ordered them.  (They also carry melamine dinnerware in this print, in both blue and green, if you're interested!)
When the order arrived, I decided the linens would be pretty with my Sophie Conran dishes in forget-me-not blue.  Villeroy and Boch's My Garden glasses added more blue, and the delphiniums my husband brought home from HEB last week were the perfect blue, even a few days past their prime.
 A diner's view. . .
 Closeup of one of the Arthur Court grape candlesticks, a long-ago gift from my in-laws
Closeup of the etched vase that my mother gave me from her collection.  Mama also has a tall pitcher in this pattern.  Please let me know if you know the name of the pattern!
View from the entryway
Delphiniums!
A simple summer table, but I do love the colors!

Thanks for stopping by!  I will be linking to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch.